You are magnetic,
turning every which way with the
shifting polar ice.
You are magnetic,
turning every which way with the
shifting polar ice.
examines my nose, and sees
it’s no flower. Gone.
Dallas, Texas, 1966 — I was living in Dallas when the Beach Boys released their song “Good Vibrations.” Here’s a video of them performing the song …
And I have a little story.
As it happens, when this song was just about to come out, I was living in a rather Deco white apartment building at Lemmon and Oak Lawn in Dallas. I was also, for the first time, reading Lord of the Rings, and I had almost reached the end of the third book — spoiler alert — where Frodo and Gollum will struggle above the chasm of Mount Doom in Mordor.
As you will recall, Gollum called the One Ring his “precious,” and as he and Frodo struggle, Gollum suddenly bites off Frodo’s finger with the ring, and dancing and holding it up and exclaiming “My precious! My precious!” Gollum slips and falls to his death into the chasm, which also destroys the One Ring.
By an amazing co-incidence, as I sat alone in my small apartment that afternoon, at the very moment that I was reading this scene, on the radio I heard, for the very first time, the song “Good Vibrations,” and at the very moment that I read of Gollum falling into the chasm, in the song, I heard (for the first time) the song’s lyrics, and they were singing … “Good … good … good … good-bye precious … Good … good … good … good-bye precious.”
The hair stood up on the back of my neck.
And to this day, whenever I hear this song, they are singing “Good … good … good … good-bye precious”
As you listen to the video, I’ll bet that you can also, if you want to, hear them singing “goodbye precious.” See what you think.
For myself, I think these little coincidences are God’s jokes, and I’m glad to know that God has a sense of humor. And it is my hope that He/She will perhaps forgive some of my stupider moments, for this reason.
One can always hope. Right?
Medford Oregon, January 23, 2016: Two writer friends and I had coffee yesterday, because they wanted to talk about marketing their books. One of them has published a couple of books but his last one has not sold much yet. The other fellow is still working on his book. Both books are novels.
I confessed that although I’ve written several books and have published them in one way or another, I’m no big expert on this subject.
However, as the get-together unfolded, between my marketing experiences and their ideas we actually did put together a couple of plans that seem very likely to be effective.
Today, I got an email from one of them, and in his email he said:
“All very interesting, and I want to know more, but my purist streak pulls me back to the Dark Side, to wit: Why don’t I just learn how to write a Story that makes a reader want to burn through it before lunch because I have made this huge promise and they are hungry for their payoff?”
As I began to respond to his question, it reawakened something I learned many years ago from my client Jerry Richardson, the author of “Powers of Persuasion,” which became a national best-seller, about how we humans leave out parts of sentences. I have found it very useful over the years. Perhaps you will find interesting this response to my writer friend —
To answer your question —
You asked: “Why don’t I just learn how to write a Story that makes a reader want to burn through it before lunch because I have made this huge promise and they are hungry for their payoff?”
Your answer is inside your question. All English-speakers engage in a practice that linguists would call “omission” or “deletion.” We delete parts of the sentence because they are “understood.” An example: [Read more…]
Is the universe infinite?
If it’s not, the first question a smart person will ask is, “so what happens at the edge?”
That’s how we define things… by the moments where they begin and end, by their edges.
This clearly applies not just to the universe, but to every project and concept and institution in our lives.
Defining the edges of performance and the promises you make defines who you are and what you do.
We live in the middle but we understand at the edges.
— Seth Godin
Medford, Oregon, November 15, 2015 — A week ago, I had a lucid dream that went on for hours. I wondered if I could do it again. And the answer is yes and no.
No, I was not able to recreate the state — being conscious in the middle of a dream, knowing that I was dreaming, able to do whatever I wanted as the dream unfurled — at least, not the next night, nor the next.
And then last night, again I awoke around 3:30 and went to sit in the front room and there my meditation activities calmed the body and lower me down toward sleep, and soon enough I grew sleepy and trundled back to get comfy in my bed, and then …
… as I drifted down, down, down I felt a very-specific shift as I had felt a week ago. It’s hard to explain. The closest I can come is that it felt like a window was in front of me, and then the window opening moved toward me and went around me, and as the window opening enclosed my body, there was a warm feeling-shift of relaxation. As quick as the click of a lock, I’d changed from one being-state into another, as immediate as walking through a door. A door of wonder. And there I was, inside the dream, and knew it.
It mutated around like dreams do, with irrational changes of scene, and things mutating as you look away and look back. But it’s so much more fun when you KNOW it’s a dream! OK, so here’s what happened — [Read more…]
Medford, Oregon, November 14, 2015 — Some folks complain about airline food, but personally I think it’s wonderful. Not that it’s truly exceptional, because frankly I can cook lots better. But the fact that you can be served food, while sky-rocketing through the atmosphere at 16,000 feet and beyond … well, that’s amazing.
Kind of like a talking dog. He doesn’t need to say profound stuff; just the fact that he can talk at all is the wonderful thing. Because sometimes, good enough is good enough, right?
And the reason I’m thinking about airline food is that, I’m thinking about the carved box, and the reason I’m thinking about the carved box is because I cleaned my hairbrush this morning.
It happened like this — [Read more…]
Medford, Oregon, November 8, 2015 — Last night something happened that I’ve wanted for nearly forty years.
Because back in that time, in my studio apartment just off Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, as I studied magic and meditation for a year while living frugally on unemployment money from the gubbamint …
Grateful, with my bicycle and a monthly bus pass, I wandered the city, scouting out the cheapest Chinese restaurants, mastering chopsticks, and learning meditation, magical ceremonies, and something called astral projection.
With a book from Robert Monroe and another from a fellow named Ophiel, who had weird sentences and clear how-to instructions, along with Patricia Garfield’s “Lucid Dreaming,” because astral projection seems very similar to lucid dreaming, to me. That is, engaging in a dream-like state which seems real and solid as dreams do, and yet while still conscious.
Once there, having left your stuporous body behind, you might wander around your neighborhood, or visit Detroit, or Antarctica. Or you might wander through magical realms of Faery, or where there be dragons and magic and fabulous beasts, cannibals, captains of pirate ships, or horrifying school boards.
Back in those days, I attempted it a number of times. Occasionally it worked briefly. You can enter it by holding onto tenuous conscious as you relax down toward sleep, or you can pre-program yourself to do something in the dream, like, look at your hand, and somehow become conscious in that moment, inside the dream-like state. I attained momentary success, finding myself conscious but somewhere else: walking a sidewalk where the leaves of a large bush were outlined in glowing gold, or suddenly peering out from the window of a bus to see the shops and people of Chinatown outside. And once visiting a house across the street. But for me it always lasted only a minute, maybe less.
Some think this process magical. I’m not certain where our own unconscious mind ends and external magic begins. If indeed any boundary does exist.
So back to last night …
As I’ve grown older, I don’t sleep solid through the night. Often in the dead of dark, the need to pee awakens me, so I rise and trundle off to the bathroom. And though this is not an exciting activity, for mysterious reasons — perhaps truculent hormone shifts from growing older — I sometimes return to my warm bedclothes, but now find myself sleepless.
What works, most of the time, is to go to the front room, sit semi-upright in a reclinable chair, and go through some meditation exercises. These clear away any skittish worries that have started bouncing around my skull, and calm my system, so I drift into a mild and focused state with no thought, and somehow sleep comes creeping on little cat feet like a comfortable fog.
Last night, as I then stumbled back to climb into bed, I shifted and jiggled the covers to find just the right spot.
And last night as I drifted down further into a dream, I was conscious.
I saw and heard and felt the things in my dream, and I knew I was in a dream. I could see the dream unfolding around me as I watched in amazement. At the same time I knew I lay in my bed, and yet could clearly see the fluctuating images, which mutated even as I watched, even as I chose to walk down the landscape, even as I spoke with others I found wandering there along the solid pathways, among the solid trees, beneath the sky so high above.
A fellow passed me on a path, travelling the other way, wearing a short-sleeved plaid shirt, and his head vanished as he walked by, though the shirt remained crisp and bright as he kept on walking. Some scenes were grand — an endless meadow where the plants were growing even as I watched. Then I entered a grubby and cluttered garage, and met a large man snapping open a switchblade knife.
But somehow he did not attack me. Another fellow with a crewcut watched me pass, though he was only a head resting on the ground.
I flew through the trees. I walked a mile-long abandoned city street between tall and empty, flat-faced buildings, and even as I glanced toward the buildings on the left these became a greening stony cliff whose top vanished in the clouds.
On and on and on I wandered there, quietly marveling in calm acceptance that I walked the dream.
From about 3:30 until 6:30 I traveled this dreamscape, as if walking from dimension to dimension to dimension, as they swirled and reshaped themselves around me.
And then I had to scratch my nose.
Sated from my wondrous vacation, I let the magical lands tumble away like smoke in the evening, and I was awake.
I’ll try it again tonight. Maybe it will work again. Maybe not.
I don’t know where these images, these places, these people, come from. I know they’re not from memory, at least not MY memory.
But I do know one new thing. One valuable thing.
I now know the distance between the two worlds.
The truth is: they are only an itch apart.